Rotterdam’s 128 Red Lights

Ever wonder, while strolling around Rotterdam, the small red lights on the ground? The first image you notice is the shape of a flame. But if you look closer, you’ll notice the figure of a man with his hands in the air, yelling out of despair, a bomber plane roaring above and buildings below on fire. Having studied in Rotterdam for a year now, I never paid much attention to them and just took them as the average fixture in the city. When a friend told me the full story, it was then I realized that Rotterdam has small but meaningful reminders of its past scattered all over.

As most of you probably already know, Rotterdam’s city center was obliterated by bombs in World War II. Some buildings were reduced into ashes with others having only their external structures intact. The damage was undeniably, extensive. Because of this, the city center was demolished and subsequently reconstructed. The only buildings returned to its original glory are the Laurenskerk, the Beurs Trade Center, the Post Office and Stadhuis or Town Hall. This is how we see the Rotterdam city center today – an eclectic mix of the old and the new. The new structures built are responsible for Rotterdam’s image as a city known for its innovative architecture.   If you head over to the Rotterdam Tourist Info center in Beurs, there are pictures showing you the time lapse of what Rotterdam’s city center looked like before and after the bombing, as well as the rebuilding of city.

In 2006, the government decided to memorialize the bombing. 128 lights with the aforementioned described images will be laid along the perimeter of the burned center. The lights span 12 kilometers and was completed in 2010. I guess it is easy sometimes, to forget that Rotterdam was once a city burned to the ground. The new monuments do an impressive job of filling the void of what was once lost. However, if we once in a while put aside how most of us see as an image and lifestyle of Rotterdam – the skyscrapers, the vibrant nightlife and the metropolitan aesthetics – we can look at this city at its core, which is a city of the past and the future. So now you know the meaning of these lights when you walk around town. They are 128 small treasures for us to find that remind us of the rich history of the city.

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Hey everyone! I’m Sabine and I’m gonna be one of the new bloggers of ISR! Looking forward to inform you more about the vibrant city that is Rotterdam as well as The Netherlands!

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